Herb: Sweet Pignut

Latin name: Carya glabra

Synonyms: Carya porcina, Juglans glabra

Family: Juglandaceae (Walnut Family)

Edible parts of Sweet Pignut:

Seed - raw or cooked. Very variable in quality, some are sweet and pleasant whilst others are bitter and astringent. In general it is inferior to other hickories. The nut is rather small, has a very thick shell and contains very little edible matter. The seed ripens in late autumn and, when stored in its shell in a cool place, will keep for at least 6 months. Sap - tapped in spring and used as a refreshing drink. Sweet.

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Dry woods and on slopes. The best specimens are found in deep moist well-drained soils.

Other uses of Sweet Pignut:

Wood - hard, strong, tough, very flexible. It weighs 51lb per cubic foot. An excellent timber, it is used for tool handles, agricultural implements etc. A very good fuel, burning well and giving off a lot of heat.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - requires a period of cold stratification - seed given 3 months cold stratification had a 91% germination rate. Best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed should be kept moist (but not wet) prior to sowing and should be sown in a cold frame as soon as possible. Where possible, sow 1 or 2 seeds only in each deep pot and thin to the best seedling. If you need to transplant the seedlings, then do this as soon as they are large enough to handle, once more using deep pots to accommodate the tap root. Put the plants into their permanent positions as soon as possible, preferably in their first summer, and give some protection from the cold for at least the first winter. Seed can also be sown in situ so long as protection is given from mice etc and the seed is given some protection from cold (a plastic bottle with the top and bottom removed and a wire mesh top fitted to keep the mice out is ideal)

Cultivation of Sweet Pignut:

Dry woods and on slopes. The best specimens are found in deep moist well-drained soils.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Carya glabra:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.